Saturday, August 11, 2012

Do we need to attend the same church?

A fellow brother and I try to keep a regular appointment to go to the local park and preach the Gospel on either a Friday or Saturday night.  Last Saturday in between our preaching an older gentleman approached us.  He professed to be a Christian and thanked us for sharing the Gospel.  After inquiring where we attended church he motioned to his car where his wife was sitting.

"My wife attends ______ Baptist Church...has been for nearly 50 years".

My first thought was one of faithfulness and, supposing she was truly converted, of how wonderful of a testimony they were to the younger generations.  What I didn't catch in his statement was emphasized as he spoke further.

"I attend _______ of Life Church myself."

I was taken aback for a moment.  Here was an older man in Christ to whom I should look for wisdom and guidance and yet he and his wife attended separate churches.  I was unsure if or even how to speak to him about this.  I decided that it was not the place or time to lovingly discuss this further.  One thing that should never spill over into evangelistic outreaches are disagreements and admonishings among the brethren.  Even after he left I still could not shake how disturbing this was to me.

How did that man reconcile the notion of him and his wife spending one of the most important times during the week in separate locations under separate preaching at separate churches which are affiliated with separate denominations?  Truthfully, it is probably nothing he or she has ever considered.  At some point their personal desires of where to attend services overruled the testimony that should come from such a generation and the evident union displayed in seeing a couple sitting together in corporate worship.  But this led me to another conclusion which has greater implications.

If this is an accepted idea, how would it affect others within the church?  What kind of impact would it have if a husband and wife no longer believed they needed to be members of the same church?  Pondering on this it suddenly dawned on me that I have already seen the results of this thinking and how it affects the local church.

Every Sunday families walk in the door of their church.  Dad and mom go to their room, 16 year old Johnny goes to the Youth room, 11 year old Suzy goes to her pre-teen room, 5 year old Billy goes to his Children's  room, and little baby Sara is placed in the nursery.  The family divides off immediately upon entering the building and may spend a few minutes together in the worship service before some split off again for Children's church and sometimes Youth church.  This is not only accepted but expected in most churches today.

If this is accepted why should we question what the older gentleman and his wife have decided to do?  If we split up the family into separate rooms within one building why not allow the family to be separated into other buildings as well?  Such a notion would never pass the approval of most believers today....right?

Many churches have constructed buildings separate from the main building where the body of believers meet.  Such buildings are in answer to the cry of many to give the youth their "own space".  Thus they have been reassigned to another location under another roof.  Sure it may be on the same property, sometimes, but the fact remains that the wedge that is driven between the family by dividing them up gets plunged even further when the family no longer resides together in the corporate gathering of believers.

Where will such thinking lead?  When should be expect to see the first hand results of dividing families during the corporate gatherings?  I can now personally attest to witnessing both the fruit of such and the branch from which that fruit sprung thanks to my encounter last Saturday evening.  My prayer is that this generation of fathers and mothers will diligently search the Scriptures before it is too late.  The message the older gentleman and his wife are sending should serve as warning beacon to us.  Divide the family within the church and they shall be divided even further.

For His glory,
Adam (and family)

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